On The Record: Nicky Hayden

World champion compares his Aspar Honda RCV1000R with other motorcycles he’s raced in MotoGP.

Nicky Hayden COTA action shot

When I rode the RCV1000R for the first time in Valencia, Spain, there were a lot of flat spots. Shifting wasn't smooth. But they improved that a lot before the first test.

Chassis feeling and feedback are similar to the RC211V. The difference with the 990 was fuel. We had a lot more fuel, which made a difference in acceleration. This thing feels more like the 800 than the old 990s.

This bike is very stable on the brakes. I've had to adjust to the brake pressure you can carry, especially with lean angle. That was a weak point with the Ducati, but with this bike, it's a strength.

One of the big adjustments I've had to make is backshifting without the clutch. I used to always ride with one finger on the clutch lever, and I'd use it. With this bike, not only do you waste time and energy, it's counter-productive. I had to tell myself to stop using it, which was not so easy.

Nicky Hayden COTA observation tower action shot

When we went to a seamless gearbox on the Ducati, it helped a lot. That was not a Honda transmission. This bike shifts pretty smooth, but there's always one corner at every track where a seamless gearbox is nice. Also, the power doesn't dip, so it's easier to keep the front wheel down out of slow corners.

I expected a more competitive bike—closer to the factory bikes. The main thing we're missing is horsepower.

If I had more power, I would probably need more electronics. But with the power we have, it's not an absolute disaster.

Acceleration is a weaker point than even top speed. When you're already racing against the best riders in the world, it's a lot to have to make up 12 mph.

Most chassis fitted with slower engines feel good.